Thoughts on fear, change, and Japanese pottery
by Lindsey Honari, MBA, ACC; Executive and Career Management Coach
I remember, pre-9/11, being able to get door-to-door from Boston to New York in 2 hours. I’d breeze through security 20 minutes before my flight with a carry-on bag. I still shake my head at how seamless and easy everything was.
But the world changed that day. We were afraid and uncertain. We emerged into a “new” normal that looked nothing like the ‘old’ normal. And we adapted. Sure, we grumble and fumble in security lines, but it did not stop us from traveling. We took to the skies in greater numbers than before. I’m convinced the smartphone was developed because folks had more time to stare at a screen.
We are in one of those times. Driven by quarantines and economic shutdown, necessity is forcing us to adapt. It is scary and worrisome and painful. It is also where innovation and creativity abound. Zoom is now part of the lingua franca. Teachers are unsung heroes, keeping millions of kids occupied and safe. Working from home is no longer a ‘perk’ or ‘luxury’.
We will emerge on the other side of this crazy time, but we will be changed. How yet, I don’t know. I’ve been doing a lot of pro bono coaching as a way to check-in with my clients and friends. The theme I’ve heard over and again is paring and pruning. Paring down the scope of our busy lives to the walls of our home. Pruning our needs to the essentials: food, hand sanitizer, wifi, toilet paper, and a lot of Netflix.
Like most of you, the ‘not knowing’ is excruciating. I myself have to pare back and prune an online career course, and I don’t know what will be post-Corona. What I do know is that there will continue to be incredible uncertainty and financial pain. Not everyone’s job or company is going to survive. Industries will look quite different. What I don’t know is which jobs, companies, or industries will rebound, or when.
I don’t have answers, and that frustrates me. I don’t know where to guide my friends and clients because I don’t know what the economic landscape will look like one month, six months or one year from now. What little advice I have is to focus on the job instead of your career in the near term. If you believe your job might be in jeopardy, or if you have been let go:
- Make a list of your Must-haves (needs) and Deal-breakers (no ways).
- Nice-to-haves (wants) will have to wait.
- Know what you want. It helps your network help you and gets your message out.
- Focus on what skills and expertise will be valued and useful in the coming months and years. Note: this may not be where your expertise lies, so be prepared to adapt.
- Practice Social Media Distancing. It’s good for the mind and gives you a chance to stop triggering yourself.
I just learned about the Japanese art of Kintsugi. It literally means “golden joinery” and involves repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The resulting vessel, although cracked or shattered, reemerges as Kintsukuroi, or “golden repair”. It is changed and, yes, it is different. But it is undeniably a beautiful creation that can once again fulfill its purpose.
I kind of feel that we are in a Kintsugi/Kintsukuroi kind of way.
With immense gratitude,
Lindsey Honari is an Executive Leadership Coach and Career Consultant with Lindsey Honari Coaching, LLC.